Imperial Japanese Navy WW2 Admirals

Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, Admiral Osami Nagano, Vice Admiral Chuichi Nagumo, Vice Admiral Takeo Kurita, Vice Admiral Nobutake Kondo

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Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, Japanese Navy, (1884-1943).

Isoroku Yamamoto was born in 1884. His original family name, Takano, was changed through adoption. Graduated from the Japanese Naval Academy in 1904, he was wounded in action during the Russo-Japanese War. Yamamoto attended the Naval War College during the "teens" and later studied at Harvard University. As a Captain, he served as Naval Attache to the United States in 1925-28. In the late 1920s and during the 1930s, he held a number of important positions, many of them involved with Japanese naval aviation.

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Admiral Yamamoto commanded the Combined Fleet before the outbreak of the Pacific War and during its first sixteen months. He was responsible for planning the Attack on Pearl Harbor and most other major operations during this time. His scheme for eliminating the U.S. fleet as a major opponent led to the June 1942 Battle of Midway, in which the Japan lost naval superiority in the Pacific.

Despite Midway's adverse outcome, Yamamoto continued as Combined Fleet commander through the following Guadalcanal Campaign, which further depleted Japan's naval resources. While on an inspection tour in the Northern Solomon Islands, he was killed in an aerial ambush by U.S. Army Air Force planes on 18 April 1943. Isoroku Yamamoto was posthumously promoted to the rank of Admiral of the Fleet.

Vice Admiral Chuichi Nagumo, Imperial Japanese Navy, (1886-1944)

Chuichi Nagumo, born in 1886, graduated from the Japanese Naval Academy in 1908. He was a torpedo specialist and had extensive seagoing experience. While commanding Japan's carrier striking force, he executed the 7 December 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor and January-April 1942 raids in the South Pacific and Indian Ocean. His force was decisively defeated on 4 June 1942, during the Battle of Midway, losing all four carriers present.

Vice Admiral Nagumo retained command of the remaining Japanese aircraft carriers into November 1942, leading them in the Battle of the Eastern Solomons in August and the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands in October. He was later placed in charge of naval forces in the Marianas Islands area. In keeping with Japanese military traditions, he died by his own hand on 6 July 1944, during the final stages of the defense of Saipan.

Vice Admiral Takeo Kurita, Imperial Japanese Navy, (1889-1977)

Takeo Kurita was born in 1889 and graduated from the Japanese Naval Academy in 1910. Specializing in torpedoes, he had extensive service in destroyers during the 1920s and 1930s, and was promoted to Rear Admiral in 1938.

During World War II, he was one of the most actively-employed Japanese Navy flag officers. Rear Admiral Kurita commanded a cruiser division during the East Indies invasion and the Battle of Midway, losing the cruiser Mikuma during the latter action. As a Vice Admiral later in 1942, Kurita led a battleship division in the Guadalcanal campaign, conducting an intense bombardment of Henderson Field on 14 October. He subsequently commanded major naval forces during the Central Solomons campaign, the Battle of Philippine Sea and the Leyte Gulf Campaign. In the latter action, on 24-25 October 1944, he led the main Japanese surface force in the Battle of the Sibuyan Sea and the Battle off Samar, suffering heavy losses at the hands of overwhelming U.S. submarine, air and surface units.

Vice Admiral Nobutake Kondo, Imperial Japanese Navy, (1886-1953)

Nobutake Kondo was born in 1886 and graduated from the Japanese Naval Academy in 1907. His career included extensive service at sea and ashore. He was President of the Japanese Naval Staff College and Chief of Staff of the Combined Fleet during the 1930s. During the first part of the Pacific War, he commanded the Second Fleet, participating in the invasions of Malaya, the Philippines and the Dutch East Indies. During the Battle of Midway, VAdm. Kondo commanded the Midway Occupation Force and Covering Group. Subsequently, he played a leading role during the Guadalcanal campaign, commanding Japanese naval forces present in the Battle of the Eastern Solomons on 23-25 August 1942, the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands on 26-27 October and the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal's battleship action on 15 November 1942

Admiral Osami Nagano, Imperial Japanese Navy, (1880-1947)

Osami Nagano was born in 1880. After becoming a naval officer, he established a strong record in administration. Nagano studied in the United States during the "teens", and was Naval Attache there in 1920-23. During the later 1930s, he served as Navy Minister and Commander in Chief of the Combined Fleet. From 1941 until February 1944, he was chief of the Navy General Staff. Admiral Nagano was tried as a war criminal following World War II, but died in 1947 before the trial ended.

Credit: US Navy History Center


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